Trumpeting your tire dealership's philosophy and values builds morale internally and improves customer relations externally. Does this mean painting them on a wall of the customer lounge or boasting them on a banner in the service department?
An example I encountered recently at a toolmaker's business convinced me the answer should be a resounding yes.
I have griped in previous columns that few bosses really clarify company goals and expectations for their workers. This form of poor leadership really hampers morale and limits productivity. As part of their overall image improvement, owners and managers need to get those goals and values out front, up front.
The banner shown in the accompanying photograph depicts the approach taken by the leadership at Darex Professional Tool Corp. in Ashland, Ore.
Darex, a thriving, 25-year-old firm, manufactures a wide variety of tool-sharpening equipment for the do-it-yourself, professional repair and industrial markets.
Darex exhibited at the automotive aftermarket show in Las Vegas last November. I was interested in one of its drill sharpeners, but I didn't have time to stand still for a demonstration at the booth. Knowing I'd be in southern Oregon later that month, I made an appointment for a demo at the company's headquarters. (I bought a sharpener on the spot and love how it works.)
The moment I saw the ``values'' banner, I realized how impressive a similar banner would look in a tire dealership or repair shop. To me, it's as up front as it gets: A straightforward credo for both personal and professional growth. Not only is the banner impossible to miss, you can see it easily from anywhere in the plant. Employees see this positive reinforcement every day, all day.
I've toured countless factories and service shops over the years. When worker morale is high in a well-run business, you can feel the positive atmosphere and good vibrations as soon as you enter. Clearly, Darex follows that trend.
Not surprisingly, its employee manual reinforces and expands upon the themes of the ``values'' banner. At the risk of sounding boastful, I find Darex President David A. Bernard emphasizing many of the very tenets I've discussed in previous columns. For example, take control of your destiny. You are the one responsible for the choices you make. Walk the walk, talk the talk. You are accountable for your own decisions and actions.
But the most impressive thing I read in Darex's employee manual is the company's ONLY work rule: Live its values.
Besides speaking volumes about the quality of leadership, it promotes another favorite concept. Empower people to do the right things for the long-term health of the company. Show me an empowered worker, and I'll show you a committed, reliable employee!
Most bosses have learned that it's not enough to assume your crew knows they are appreciated. You must tell them and behave like you appreciate them.
The same applies to company philosophies and goals. That's the very reason Mr. Bernard created the banner. In other words, if the company goals are worth bragging about, post them for all to see.
If you don't have a goal or a destination for your company, any old road will get you there—including the road to ruin. But if you know where you want to go, write it down as concisely as possible, then put it on a poster or banner.
Then tell me if it doesn't improve morale at your store. Tell me if customers who see it aren't impressed.